What are seminal tract infections? Seminal tracts are ducts through which sperm move from the testicles to the outside part of the body. If an infectious process exists at any point along this route, sperm are forced to cross the infected area which can damage them and affect their ability to fertilize the egg. Seminal ...
Seminal tracts are ducts through which sperm move from the testicles to the outside part of the body. If an infectious process exists at any point along this route, sperm are forced to cross the infected area which can damage them and affect their ability to fertilize the egg.
Seminal tract infections affect fertility in several ways:
• Blockage of seminal tracts may prevent sperm from being released during orgasm (azoospermia) or cause oligospermia, or low sperm count in semen.
• When attached to sperm, they may decrease their motility (asthenozoospermia) and prevent them from moving to the egg
• They may cause changes to sperm morphology (teratospermia)
• They may increase sperm DNA fragmentation index, which compromises embryo implantation and pregnancy development
• They favor the production of antisperm antibodies and therefore reduce chances of fertilization
• They may infect female reproductive organs by spreading through the semen
Since seminal tract infections seldom show symptoms, it is common that they remain for a long time without being identified, and generate consequences that may lead to infertility.
In some cases, seminal tract infections may cause:
• Abnormal semen
• Painful urination
• Urethral discharge
If you have any of these symptoms, you should stop having sexual relations and see a doctor immediately.
Seminal tract infections may be caused by the presence of harmful microorganisms in the prostate, seminal vesicles, the vas deferens, the epididymis and the testicles.
These microorganisms tend to be transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse. Any sexually active male may develop a seminal tract infection; however, the risk is proportional to the number of sexual partners he has or has had.
In addition to a medical history analysis and a painless genital exam that takes just a few minutes, it is necessary to perform a semen analysis.
Current microbiological diagnostic techniques facilitate the detection of a large number of germs that affect semen quality and lead to male infertility, including parasites, bacteria and fungi.
It is important that the diagnosis is done by an experienced expert, since there are many types of seminal tract infections, and each requires a specific treatment.
Likewise, a semen analysis should be performed to rule out sperm count, motility and morphology problems.
In most cases, seminal tract infections can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics.
Infected men should not have sexual relations until they and their sexual partners have been treated. Otherwise, they suffer a high risk of getting reinfected and experiencing serious complications in their reproductive health. To ensure that therapy has been effective, they should undergo a subsequent test.
If sperm quality is insufficient, in vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF+ICSI) is the treatment of choice, since it makes it possible to inject just one sperm directly in the cytoplasm of a mature egg through a microscopic needle.
If the patient has an infection or if the presence of leukocytes is detected in the semen analysis, the patient must undergo proper treatment before starting an in vitro fertilization cycle.
The patient should also undergo a sperm DNA fragmentation test before beginning any assisted reproduction technology, since a high fragmentation index could affect the success rates of these procedures.
If there are no sperm in semen, they may be recovered through epididymal aspiration or a testicular biopsy.